Post-earthquake stress reactions
Normal responses to an extraordinary event
Everyone has an emotional reaction to a frightening event like the recent earthquake. Many of us will feel out of sorts for a few days. Some will have a very strong reaction with high levels of fear, agitation, sleep disturbance and worry. These are all normal reactions and should be responded to as such. For most of us time will help us adjust and get back to normal.
Helpful guidelines for staff and students:
- As far as possible maintain your normal daily routines and activities, go to work, school, recreation activities etc., even if you feel a bit fearful.
- Review your and your families’ emergency plans - both home and work. Be prepared for a further earthquake, but avoid becoming obsessive about this.
- Talk to family, friends and colleagues about how you are feeling. This will help maintain a more balanced perspective and assist you to recover faster.
- Take time out to exercise, socialise, meditate/relax – every day – especially while you remain feeling anxious and worried. This really helps!
- Minimise/avoid use of alcohol and drugs – while short-term relief may be gained, these impede recovery.
- Be gentle on yourself – you are a human being and feeling fearful and distressed is absolutely normal in this kind of situation.
- Remember to check in with others –family, colleagues, students etc. Simple expressions of care and concern can make a huge difference.
- Don’t make any big decisions on impulse. Keep a day at a time focus and avoid focussing excessively on future fears.
- If things persist and don’t improve – speak (or refer others) to a professional